The manufacturing sector is rebounding from a slump prompted by the global recession. In fact, recent reports note that manufacturers are boosting production and building new plants.
The Institute for Supply Management reported in April that factories in the United States posted the biggest production increases in March since the recession ended.
Some economic forecasts are dubbing the current manufacturing resurgence a “manufacturing renaissance” driven by changes in energy supply and cheap labor costs.
However, an article in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Strategy+Business magazine asserts that the industry is best poised to take advantage of software – including big data and big data analytics – that affects the entire manufacturing value chain.
The fact is, global manufacturing is changing at a faster pace then ever before, according to Helmuth Ludwig, chief executive officer of Siemens Industry USA, and Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp., authors of the article.
“Advanced manufacturers are actively pursuing the next frontier in production capabilities, which we refer to as Industry 4.0,” the authors note. “Still largely in the conceptual stage, the next cycle of software integration, advanced digitization, and networking will harness big data feedback in real time from customers and suppliers, as well as information about the operation of the production machinery and the product as it is used.”
For example, Apple’s iPhone can send diagnostic information back to the company about how the operating system and hardware are performing. Production machinery will also evolve to be self-optimizing, able to continuously change themselves to operate more effectively.
However, for companies to take full advantage of the opportunities of Industry 4.0, they will need to tap analytics to better monitor and maintain production assets. And the biggest risk to operations reported by manufacturers is the failure of assets, according to a recent research report from Aberdeen Group.
To offset that risk, the top performing manufacturers use analytics to improve decision-making and visibility, the report notes.
“This allows these companies to predict their maintenance and safety, reduce the overall risk in their operations, and even forecast the eventual replacement need of an existing asset and plan the necessary budget well in advance,” according to the report.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers article concludes that the coming era of “virtual-to-real” manufacturing will rule the global economic landscape for decades.
“Manufacturers should be examining their operations, looking for opportunities where software and advanced technology can lead to step-change improvements,” according to the article. “Manufacturers that capitalize on these changes across their entire development and production process will set the tone that others will be forced to follow to remain competitive.”
- Please join us on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, for our complimentary webcast, “Managing Supply Chain Risk with Analytics.” In this webcast, TIBCO Spotfire’s Sean Connors and Steve Farr will explain how the use of supplier lead time analytics can result in improved inventory turns and fewer delays for discrete manufacturers. Further, that supplier performance and monitoring can be improved to reduce risk in the timely delivery of goods.
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